Black stools! An alarming sign.
Black stool is a condition in which the feces are very dark or black in color. Black stool may be normal in some cases and caused by ingesting certain substances or medications, such as iron supplements. However, black stool can also be caused by a serious condition, such as bleeding in the digestive tract caused by a peptic ulcer.
Black stool that is tarry in texture and foul smelling is often a symptom of upper gastrointestinal bleeding from the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. This is called melena.
Very small amounts of blood in the stool may be seen by the naked eye and not significantly change the color of stool. This is called fecal occult blood, which can be a symptom of a serious disease and may be found with regular, routine medical examination. Black stools can be a symptom of a serious condition, such as esophageal varices or peptic ulcer. Seek prompt medical care if you have unusually dark stools or any change in the color or texture of your stool. Black stool may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.
Symptoms that may accompany black stool include:
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition:
In some cases, black stool can indicate a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency settings.
Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions
Dizziness: High fever (higher than 101 degrees fahrenheit)